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His removal was made the occasion for public manifestations of sympathy for him, and of censure for the government. An address was presented to him, signed by large numbers of the citizens of St. Louis, those of German birth largely predominating, in which his removal was ascribed to jealousy of his popularity, and to the fact that his policy in regard to tancipation was in advance of the government at Washington. “ You have risen," said this address, “ too fast in popular favor. The policy announced in your proclamation, although hailed as a political and military necessity, furnished your ambitious rivals and enemies with å cruel weapon for your intended destruction. The barbingers of truth will ever be crucified by the Pharisees. We cannot be deceived by shallow and flimsy pretexts, by unfounded and slanderous reports. We entertain no doubt of your ability to speedily confound and silence your traducers. The day of reckoning is not far distant, and the people will take care that the schemes of your opponents shall, in the end be signally defeated.” The General accepted these tributes to bis merits, and these denunciations of the government, with grateful acknowledgments, saying that the kind and affectionate demonstrations which greeted him, cheered and strengthened his confidence—“my confidence," he said, " already somewhat wavering, in our republican institutions."
The sharp personal discussions to which this incident gave rise, were made still more bitter, by denunciations of General Halleck's course in excluding, for military reasons, which have been already noticed,* fugitive slaves from our lines, and by the contest that soon came up in the State Convention, on the general subject of emancipation. On the 7th of June, 1862, a bill was introduced into the Convention by Judge Breckinridge, of St. Louis, for gradual emancipation, framed in accordance with the recommendation of the President's Message. By the combined votes of those who were opposed to emancipation in any form, and those who were opposed to the President's plan of gradual emancipation, this bill was summarily laid on the table. But on the 13th, the subject was again brought up by a Message from Governor Gamble, calling attention to the fact, that Congress had passed a resolution, in accordance with the President's recommendation, declaring that “ the United States ought to co-operate with any State which might adopt a gradual emancipation of slavery, giving to such State, at its discretion, compensation for the inconvenience, public and private, caused by such a change of system.” This message was referred to a special committee, which reported resolutions, recognizing the generous spirit of this proposal, but declining to take any action upon it. These resolutions were adopted, and on the 16th a Mass Convention of Emancipationists, consisting of 195 delegates from 25 counties, met at Jefferson City, and passed resolutions, declaring it to be the duty of the next General Assembly to pass laws, giving effect to a gradual system of emancipation on the basis proposed.
* See page 292.
At the State election, in the following November, the question of emancipation was the leading theme of controversy. Throughout the State the canvass turned upon this issue, and resulted in the choice of a decided majority of the Assembly favorable to emancipation. But the division in the ranks of this party still continued, and gave rise to very heated and bitter contests, especially in St. Louis. During the summer, the main rebel army having been driven from the State, and the Union army being of necessity in the main withdrawn to other fields, the State was overrun by reckless bands of rebel guerrillas, who robbed and plundered Union citizens, and created very great alarm among the people. In consequence of these outrages, Governor Gamble ordered the organization of the entire militia of the State, and authorized General Schofield to call into active service snch portions of it as might be needed to put down marauders, and defend peaceable and loyal citizens. The organization was effected with great promptness, and the State 'militia became a powerful auxiliary of the national forces, and cleared all sections of the State of the lawless bands which had inflicted so much injury and committed so many outrages.
On the 19th of September, the States of Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas, were formed into a military district, of which the command was assigned to General Curtis, who was thoroughly in sympathy with the friends of immediate emancipation and the supporters of General Fremont in his differences with the government. He bad control of the national forces in his district, but Governor Gamble did not give him command of the State militia.
The differences of political sentiment between the two sections of the Union men of the State came thus to be represented, to some extent, by two organized military forces; and the contest between their respective partisans continued to be waged with increasing bitterness, greatly to the embarrassment of the government at Washington, and to the weakening of the Union cause. This continued until the spring of 1863, when the President removed General Curtis from his command, and appointed General Schofield in his place. This gave rise to very vehement remonstrances and protests, to one of which, sent by telegraph, the President made the following reply:
Your dispatch of to-day is just received. It is very painful to me that you, in Missouri, cannot, or will not, settle your factional quarrel among yourselves. I have been tormented with it beyond endurance, for months, by both sides. Neither side pays the least respect to my appeals to your reason, I am now compelled to take hold of the case.
To General Schofield himself, the President soon after addressed the following letter :
WASHINGTON, May 27, 1863. General J. M. SCHOFIELD:
DEAR SIR:—Having removed General Curtis and assigned you to the command of the Department of the Missouri, I think it may be of some advantage to me to state to you why I did it. I did not remove General Curtis because of my full conviction that he had done wrong by commission or omission. I did it because of a conviction in my mind that the Union men of Missouri, constituting, when united, a vast majority of the people, have entered into a pestilent, factious quarrel, among themselves, General Curtis, perhaps not of choice, being the head of one faction, and Governor Gamble that of the other. After months of labor to reconcile the difficulty, it seemed to grow worse and worse, until I felt it my duty to break it up somehow, and as I could not remove Governor Gamble, I had to remove General Curtis. Now that you are in the position, I wish you to undo nothing merely because General Curtis or Governor Gamble did it, but to exercise your own judgment, and do right for the public interest. Let your military measures be strong enough to repel the invaders and keep the peace, and not so strong as to unnecessarily harass and persecute the people. It is a difficult rôle, and so much greater will be the honor if you perform it well. If both factions, or neither, shall abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by one and praised by the other.
This action gave special dissatisfaction to the more radical Unionists of the State. They had been anxious to have the Provisional Government, of which Governor Gamble was the Executive head, set aside by the national authority, and the control of the State vested in a Military Governor clothed with the authority which General Fremont had assumed to exercise by his proclamation of August 31st, 1861 ;-and the Germans enlisted in the movement had made very urgent demands for the restoration of General Fremont himself. Several deputations visited Washington, for the purpose of representing these views and wishes to the President,—though they by no means restricted their efforts at reform to matters within their own State, but insisted upon sundry changes in the
Cabinet, upon the dismissal of General Halleck from the position of Commander of the Armies of the United States and upon other matters of equal magnitude and importance.
The following report of President Lincoln's reply to these various requests, was made by a member of a Committee appointed at a mass meeting, composed mainly of Germans, and held at St. Louis on the 10th of May: although made by a person opposed to the President's action, it probably gives a substantially correct statement of his remarks :
Messrs. EMILE PRETORIOUS, THEODORE OLSHAUSEN, R. E. ROMBAUR, etc.:
GENTLEMEN :-During a professional visit to Washington city, I prebented to the President of the United States, in compliance with your instructions, a copy of the resolutions adopted in mass meeting at St. Louis on the 10th of May, 1863, and I requested a reply to the suggestions therein contained. The President, after a careful and loud reading of the whole report of proceedings, saw proper to enter into a conversation of two hours' duration, in the course of which most of the topics embraced in the resolutions and other subjects were discussed.
As my share in the conversation is of secondary importance, I propose to omit it entirely in this report, and, avoiding details, to communicate to you the substance of noteworthy remarks made by the President.
1. The President said that it may be a misfortune for the nation that he was elected President. But, having been elected by the people, he meant to be President, and perform his duty according to his best understanding, if he had to die for it. No General will be removed, nor will any change in the Cabinet be made, to suit the views or wishes of any particular party, faction or set of men. General Halleck is not guilty of the charges made against him, most of which arise from misapprehension or ignorance of those who prefer them.
2. The President said that it was a mistake to suppose that Generals John C. Fremont, B. F. Butler, and F. Sigel are systematically kept out of command," as stated in the fourth resolution; that, on the contrary, he fully appreciated the merits of the gentlemen named ; that by their own actions they had placed themselves in the positions which they occupied ; that he was not only willing, but anxious to place them again in command as soon as he could find spheres of action for them, without doing injustice to others, but that at present he “bad more pegs than holes to put them in."
3. As to the want of unity, the President, without admitting such to be the case, intimated that each member of the Cabinet was responsible